The Wonder of Tisza Blooms

These long-tailed mayflies are mostly extinct but still found along the Tisza. Their yearly mating is dramatic and always draws a crowd, and did back in Prosecutor Kronberg's day, as well.

The following scene was cut from the book, but you can get a feel for the determination of these creatures, if not their majesty.


The towpath was much more crowded than it usually was, even for a warm spring afternoon. Kronberg and Dandy had to thread themselves through a lively group which had been gathering daily at about this time for the last few days. Each afternoon, folks came out to eye the spectacle. The merchants who came out still had their aprons on.

Kronberg had slowed to watch, too. He slapped at his side, a call to Dandy to stay at his heel. Kronberg was at least as tall as any man out there, and if it hadn’t been for all the hats, he’d have had no trouble seeing at all. He crouched low to see under a brim, then higher on tiptoe, to see above (without much thought to taking off his own hat). He had missed the pageantry some years, either due to rain or just bad timing.

But the sight was so peculiar, so fantastic and so remarkable, that it was hard for him to peel his eyes away once he fixed his gaze out on the water.The river was a humming haze of millions upon millions of long-tailed mayflies. They rose from the dark waters of the Tisza and hatched in a frenzied mass above. They hovered at the surface, their enormous, five-inch wings flapping so fast that together they sounded like a whirring engine. The “jinx” flies — their’s was a luckless fate — were absolutely frantic to mate, some males so desperate they clung to larvae not yet hatched. Yet once they mated, they died, all within the hour of their birth. Lives spent for a brief, glorious show. The “Tisza Blooms” happened each June, and in all the world, on the Tisza River. It was a marvel to Kronberg. As he walked away from the sight, he could still hear the humming, and he could hear it until he got to Thomas Toth Park.